Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Now that it's been a full year since I started bike commuting, I thought I would look back to determine how much I saved. The cost of public transportation keeps rising in New York City, where an unlimited monthly pass went from $89 to $104 last year -- and there is word of another fare hike coming up in the next year. So in addition to the health and environmental benefits of biking, it can also save you some cash.
Over the past year, I averaged 6.4 subway/bus rides per week, totaling $711 for the year, and I biked an average of 26 miles per week. There were some weeks where I was able to rely completely on my bike and didn't need public transportation, but there were also a couple weeks where I didn't bike at all. It wasn't so much the winter cold that stopped me -- in fact, I could have easily biked all through the winter because we didn't get much snow and the weather never dipped cold for too long. Rather, various logistical factors kept me from riding more - like staying up late for rock shows and being too tired to bike in the morning, or health reasons, or post-work plans that I wouldn't want to bike home drunk from, or hopping back and forth between my apartment and my boyfriend's and not always having my bike with me.
I also looked at the cost of bicycle maintenance, which totaled $243 for the year. I paid for a tune-up, two fenders (since the first one was a clip-on type that sucked and kept falling off), a couple bike lights (since one was stolen and one fell off) and a flat tire repair. I included the $40 price of a Transportation Alternatives membership, since it got me discounts at bike shops and they do good advocacy work to improve bike lanes and pedestrian and biker safety in New York.
So $243 for bike maintenance + $711 for metrocard = $954. Meanwhile, if I had paid for an unlimited pass and taken the subway to work every day, like my previous years in New York City, I would have paid $1,248. This means that I saved $294 over the year by commuting by bike rather than by public transportation alone. I expected the savings to be higher, but it's definitely not an insignificant amount. And in reality, I saved even more because my metrocard was deducted pre-tax from my paycheck. Now I can challenge myself to bike more miles and save more money next year!
Have you ever tried changing the way you commute and seen how much you save?